Designer Spotlight: Jen Geigley

Chunky knits are still hot! These quick-to-knit projects offer instant gratification, and there are so many great designs making use of big yarns, big needles, and oversized texture. Designer Jen Geigley could be called the queen of chunky knits: both of her books, Weekend and Everyday, are chock full of gorgeous & wearable projects. Below is our interview with Jen, and be sure to read on to the end to see who won our February blog giveaway, and for a special treat!

When did you learn to knit/crochet?
I started knitting in 2008. I had two friends who were knitters and I begged them to teach me. One night, they taught me how to cast on, knit and purl and I immediately became obsessed. I read every book I could get my hands on and I haven’t stopped knitting since.

How did you get started designing?
I wrote my first pattern in 2010 – just a simple cowl that I had knitted a few times, but really liked. So I decided to write down the pattern. That pattern accidentally launched me into knitwear design because (almost overnight) it became very popular online. After that, I decided to experiment more, play with yarn, shapes and stitch patterns and keep writing.

What is your design process typically like? What are your favorite projects to design?
Everything starts in a sketchbook that I carry with me. I also make mood boards for larger projects, like my books. I draw first, swatch next and then start writing. I really love making an entire collection and envisioning how it will look together when photographed. It generally takes me about a year to write a book and knit samples. Some things end up not fitting with the collection and I usually have to knit them in their entirety to figure that out. Some things just don't make the final cut … it's kind of like Project Runway (Make it work!).
Leo Scarf from Everyday
You've now self published two distinct collections of patterns, Weekend and Everyday. How were you able to complete such big projects on your own?
It definitely takes a team in the end! I had lots of help from my tech editor and my talented photographers and models made everything look amazing. But yes, for a long time this was just me … slowly playing with ideas and brainstorming how things would look when they were all put together. With my first book, I definitely had to talk myself into it. I didn’t get completely serious about writing a book until I hung out with a successful photographer and book publishing friend of mine. We sat down and he talked me through the publishing process. He filled in the blanks and answered so many of my questions. I had the knitting part figured out, but the rest had been a mystery. It was that day that I decided to jump in and really go for it. I made myself a firm deadline of Fall 2015 and that was it. I wasn’t going to let another knitting season pass me by. I wrote a note to myself on a post-it and kept it on the inside cover of my sketchbook. And it just said ‘Don’t stop.’
I first started the rough outline of my book by dividing it into two parts – the first half is very photo-heavy and the second half is the text portion of my book. The patterns. So I made a list of photography shots that I wanted to get of each project. Then I made some bullet points for everything I’d need to write … special technique explanations, resources, acknowledgements, the table of contents, etc. And of course, the patterns themselves. Each pattern needs a list of supplies, notions, the sizing information and gauge. Plus a detail photo, and the instructions. So I began organizing that info in a graphic way using InDesign … experimenting with the hierarchy and the flow. (Sometimes being a graphic designer is a valuable thing!)
To track progress and keep up with the deadlines I had set for myself, I used Action Method notebooks. They have little blanks for Action Steps and things to put on the backburner. I kept several of these going … I’d cross things out or move on to new lists as things changed or new goals took priority. I also kept one sketchbook where I’d draw out pattern ideas and jot down quick notes. It’s very messy and scribbly but I’ll probably keep it forever.
Gap-tastic Cowl

What is your absolute favorite Knitter's Pride product, the one you would HAVE to have if you were stranded on a desert island?
I cannot live without my Knitter’s Pride Nova Cubics Platina interchangeable circulars set! Truly. I can’t remember how many years I’ve owned these, but I knit almost everything in my books with these needles. I love how my stitches stay uniform when knitting with Cubics. Truly a game-changer. I also love that Knitter's Pride carries the big needles that I need for my super-bulky projects – I have the Jumbo Birch circular US 36 and US 50 needles and I use them all of the time.

Do you have any knitting horror stories or mishaps?
Well, I just lost one of my project bags for an entire week. It had 4 skeins of yarn in it and a half-finished sweater! Every time I thought about it, I felt sick. I had no idea where I'd left it and called every single place I’d been to that week (which was a lot of places) and it finally turned up at a car dealership where I’d had an oil change.

I also left my entire knitting bag at a coffee shop one time and as I had walked out, one of the yarn balls had trailed behind me into the parking lot, unbeknownst to me. When one of the employees found my bag, they must have went outside and scooped the yarn up and saved the bag for me until I came back the next time. There was a big post-it note on my bag that said 'give this to the knitting girl.'  I've decided to attach luggage tags with my contact info on all my project bags from now on. HA.

Jen Geigley has written and self-published knitting patterns since 2010. Clean, modern designs inspire her and she has a love and appreciation for simple knits that are wearable. Her designs have been published in Knit Simple Magazine, Noro Magazine, Knitsy Magazine and Rowan’s Online Publications. She is the author of 'Weekend: Simple, Modern Knits' and 'Everyday: A casual, modern hand-knit collection.' (Jessica Jones actress Krysten Ritter is a fan of her books and recently recommended them to her Instagram followers!) Jen's most popular pattern, the Gap-tastic cowl, has been knit 18,252 times on Ravelry. She is passionate about sharing the love of knitting by teaching knitting classes to adults and children at local high schools and workshops and loves knitting with her daughter.

Find Jen around the web!
Buy the books here -

Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Iamjoannep! You have won this month's blog giveaway, we will get in touch with you to arrange for the delivery of your prize.

Bonus Giveaway!

One of our lucky readers will win this prize pack! You can enter our contest by using the widget below, or click here to view a mobile-friendly version. We'll announce the winner on our next blog post on Friday, March 10. Good luck!

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